...these silver lines, travel from my thoughts to yours, wavering, floating like spirits dancing...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Impulsive Cooking

The joys and pleasures of cooking. Believe it or not, few things hold as much pleasure as cooking on an off-from work day. There might be things that I would have lined up to do on my off day, but I would wilfully and happily, put them off, if sudden inspiration struck me on that very day, prompting me to act on impulse, and get up and cook something in the kitchen. Oh and the kitchen! My parents lovingly decorated and furnished it a couple of years ago, and it truly is a pleasure now to work in it. I truly believe that your work spaces should be places of joy and happiness and in which you work with full confidence and reliance on your kitchen and trusty utensils.

So, it being an off-from work day, (mine is Tuesdays this month) I got up from the sofa while watching TV, when sudden insipiration struck and I was quickly thinking of making a pie. I wanted apple pie, but there being no apples in the house, decided to go for the next best fruit - and that was mangoes! They're in season, and the ones I had were small and sweet with a soft flesh, so they were perfect were cooking.

They say an apple pie is very easy to make, hence the saying 'as easy as apple pie'. I have never made a pie in my life, let alone an apple pie, but I was going with intuition and acting on impulse. A few rummages through a couple of cookbooks, and I found the proportion of flour, butter and water to make the pastry for my pie. Nigel Slater's cookbook advised making the dough with hands and using cold butter and ice cold water, as the 'tactile pleasures of pastry making' could only be enjoyed if you went in there and grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak.

And it was amazing. Absolutely amazing! and so wonderful how the flour and butter mixed together in my hands, and became so soft and fluffly and so beautiful in my hands! And I can't help but agree with Nigel on this! It truly was a pleasure! And I would recommend that to anyone who was thinking of making a pastry at home. Use your hands! Nigel says you can always use a whip or a beater but there's really no need. And I agree! There's  really no need!

Ok, so the filling for the pie... I have been making a fruit jam-my sort of thing with syrup and butter and honey for my pancakes so I decided to go along with that with a few modifications. Into a saucepan, some butter, my peeled, chopped mangoes, and loads of sugar, cooked on medium high heat, till they become sort of soft, and then some water. Now on low heat, till it becomes gooey and delicious, with a final sprinkling of good cinammon powder (LOVE that stuff!), and set aside from the flame.

Next, greased my pie pan with a generous amount of butter, lined it with pastry, and put in the oven to heat up for a few minutes.

Got it out of the oven, and filled it with the mango mixture, and topped it with the pastry lid, covering the sides well, making a few pastry leaves for decoration on top :) that was optional of course. Perforated the top and sent to the oven for baking till golden brown, for about 55 minutes, checking every so often on it.

When it came out of the oven, it smelled oh-so-good, and looked good too, so I decided to take some pictures.

The acting-on-impulse thing continued into the evening as well, and I decided to make some cheese samosas with olives and oregano and black pepper. Gave me a few ideas for further modifications for a good tea time snack! The best part of it all, was working with flour. I absolutely LOVE it!

Inbetween it all, I watched Julie and Julia, for the third time, and fell in love with it all over again.

I want to read both of the books that the movie is based on, it would be great to read them! Want. Want. Want.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sometimes it becomes necessary to view life from another perspective. I know that might sound clichéd, but it’s true, and without even realizing it, we all do it from time to time. The thing is, we – living in big cities, in our big buildings, with media all around us, and teachers and family and friends often dictating what we think, what we do, how we do what we do, how we look, how we talk, how we behave as human beings in general – often become disillusioned. The reality of what we perceive is not reality at all, but in fact, a distorted reality, meant to be fed as reality to you. And in the process of this feeding, we somehow become disillusioned ourselves along the way. So we don’t stop to ask ourselves, what is happening? Why it’s happening, what’s happening? Who allowed it to happen? Could it be cover-up to hide something from us? Are we being fooled into believing that there is no other world out there?

Well for me, the signs are everywhere. I have wrote about death, and how that’s not an end, but a beginning of something beautiful. I would continue with that line of thought in this post, by telling you about my recent venture into a personal research area that I have undertaken, primarily, to make sense of it all. You know, how often you find yourselves at a junction where you stop and think, what does it all mean? Is there a purpose to my existence? Why do I feel so clueless? How strong is my faith in God? How much does faith dictate and decide things for my life, and how much does society, or my own personal whims?

So as I said, the signs, that this life is in fact a small part of a much larger journey, of us journey beings, are everywhere. And the righteous, or the pious, or the spiritually attuned, if you will, are aware of this fact. But, there are those who do not want you to take that train of thought. There are those who want you to submerge in this world fully with all this eccentricities, its materialism, its shallowness, its fake and artificial principles, and become a part of the machine. Become a part of the system. The system that is made by them. The system that is designed to achieve a specific purpose. For you to keep on consuming from this system and to keep on producing for this system. And for you to believe in everything that the system dictates. To take everything the system dictates at face value.

When you think about death what do you think? Do you think of it as an end? Do you think of it as an end to your existence in this world? Or rather do you think of death as an end to your physical existence, but the continuation or the start of your spiritual journey? Something that I think about and believe is that we are spirits on a human journey, not humans on a spirit journey. When you think about that, all the mechanisms of this system will become clear to you and you would begin to understand what is happening around you. The consumer society, a part of the system, which wants you to get all, while you can, to hoard to stock, to invest in objects made by the system for you, to keep you busy, like ants, to keep on working in the system, so that you don’t ever have time to question yourself, if there is a higher purpose to your life, and to your existence in this world, is doing all it can to keep you in the mist.

Should you dare to lift the curtain of mist all around you, you would undoubtedly find the meaning of your life and existence on planet earth. Now I know this may sound clichéd too, but the fact remains that we become so used to our usual way of thinking about things, that we often don’t get the full picture. Part of the fault to this, lies with our brains, and how we use them. But ultimately, it’s the fault of the system, because it has made our mind into a machine, and boxed in our imagination of what can and can’t be. But the sky is the limit, remember the saying your teachers told you when you were young, referring to what you can achieve out of life. That is true. The sky really is the limit.

The thing to do right now, is to shed our outer layer so carefully designed by the system to adorn us. The exercise is to think about what human beings are doing to each other in modern times, in the past, and to question, and research why they did what they did. What we must do in order to live our life fully, is to forget about materialism, to forget about objects, money, career, in essence everything that ties us to this physical world, and find something that bonds us with the spiritual world, something that frees our minds.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


The times they are a-changing. But despite these changing times, and no matter how difficult goes the going, no matter how hard or difficult your journey is, the pursuit of happiness remains one of the most essential part of being human. Our human experience in this world is marked by this very pursuit. We seek something eternal beauty, eternal bliss, eternal happiness, eternal joy. And all the while, we are dying. Every single moment that you spend on this earth, living, breathing, brings you closer to your death. It is no wonder then, why we forget death. Because the experience of being human, being a living creature on this glorious planet, is just too beautiful to think about death. Yet if we observe even a small living creature on this planet that we live in, every plant, flower, insect or animal, we would find that there is an ultimate end to everything. No matter what, death is always looming there. And it is not an end, but a beginning of something else. Lending beauty and life to something else. Part of something, becoming the whole of something else.

In that sense, you go on living. You never cease to die. You never cease to exist. You are there in the earth, after you die. You are there in the flowers that grow on the earth. You are there in the air. You are in the animals that roam about the earth. You are part of every living thing that exists in this world. And you never go away.

So when you think about how hard your life is, or the problems that you are facing, of if you’re thinking that you just can’t handle all that’s going on in your life at the moment, then think that one day, you will be gone, and become part of the earth you are treading on. And it won’t matter how much money you made or did not make. It won’t matter if you managed to get that job, or that cute girl or guy, or that thing you have always wanted to get, you know the thing you coveted, and saved up all your money for. So forget your fears, and jump into the pond of life. Swim in and… live!